Disappointment or Cruel Optimism?

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Elisabeth GRINDEL, Kaplan International Colleges, United Kingdom
This paper highlights the unique position of temporary migrants in the debate around fulfilment and disappointment. Focussing on families of international students in a small English university town, I discuss how these participants experience their temporary sojourn in the periphery, and how they respond to initial disappointment with an appliance of ‘cruel optimism’.

Before arrival, the partners of international students envisioned Britain to be a land of plenty with plenty of work, plenty of cultural diversity and plenty of networks. Later they arrived in a Northern English university town with a predominately white British population. Work is hard to find – especially for temporary migrants – and feelings of isolation and loneliness  are daily companions.

In this paper I discuss how instead of allowing feelings of disappointment to determine their well-being, the families of international students in this study focus on their homemaking and apply cruel optimism, which names a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility, to create what I call an intimate diasporic space in the home. I highlight how they use emotional domestic labour to create such a space, and how they envision their actions to be beneficial for their future careers.